League for the Blind sues Zimstats, ministries

The Zimbabwe National League of the Blind has filed a High court application challenging the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats), Finance and Public Service and Social Welfare ministers to reverse their alleged discriminatory tendencies.

In an affidavit numbered 1326/15, Ishmael Zhou the director of the Zimbabwe National League of the Blind states that Zimstats, and the two ministers whose portfolios include the administration of the Census and Statistics Act and fair labour standards, disability issues and social protection, have inherently discriminated persons with disabilities by not recruiting them in population census exercises.

“This application is being made in terms of section 85 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe on the basis that the rights of our members as enshrined in the declaration of rights as contained in the Constitution of Zimbabwe amendment (no 20) Act 2013 herein referred to as the Constitution of Zimbabwe are reasonably likely to be violated by Zimstats in its process of recruitment of personnel to conduct the next population census.
“In particular, the right of our members to be protected against discrimination on the basis of disability as enshrined in section 56 (3) and (4), is likely to be violated in the future recruitment of personnel whenever Zimstats selects staff to conduct population censuses,” Zhou states, in an application which the Weekend Post is in possession of.

Zhou further states that the application comes after some of their members have been discriminated against. He cites one of their members, Thulani Tavashavira who was employed as the Acting District Social Services Officer in Mberengwa and, received an invitation requiring all heads of departments in various government departments to submit their names for consideration for level 2 district level supervisors training for the 2012 population census programme that was being conducted uwnder the auspices of Zimstats.

Thulani duly submitted his name and was invited to come and register to undergo the said training programme in Senga, Gweru.

“He turned up for registration but was informed by a lady official from the PAs office that his visual impairment rendered him physically unfit to undergo level 2 training as per requirements set out by Zimstats in a circular which requires that the personnel be physically and mentally fit when in fact he met the basic educational criterion set by Zimstats,” Zhou states.

“As an organisation we again received similar reports from two other members Simangele Ndlovu and Msoni Mlilo who are both visually impaired civil servants whom Zimstats refused to engage as enumerators during the 2012 census on the basis that their visual impairment meant they are physically unfit.

After the above three complaints from our members, we observed that Zimstats was systematically excluding visually impaired persons from its recruitment process in the run to the 2012 population census.

“Our legal counsel of record subsequently wrote to the Zimstats director general seeking redress but no response was ever made,” Zhou states.

On the affidavit Zhou states that Zimstats has a constitutional duty not to discriminate against persons on the basis of disability as per the provisions of section 56 (3) of the Constitution.
“By requiring that the persons be recruited should be physically fit without providing criteria against which physical fitness should be measured, Zimstats leaves room for exclusion purely on the basis of disability even if the affected is physically fit in the medical sense as the case with the applicants.

“Application submits that Zimstats has a positive duty to incur all necessary expenses to facilitate the participation of all eligible visually impaired persons in the population census conducted in 2012 and has an obligation to incur all necessary expenses to ensure the participation of all eligible visually impaired persons in any population census that it conducts in future,” Zhou states. — Letwin Nyambayo in BULAWAYO

Post a comment